THE teenager who inflicted the devastating wound which led to young Coventry man Emmanuel Lukenga bleeding to death has insisted he had not intended to kill or seriously injure him.
Enroy Ruddock told a jury he had been handed the knife by a co-defendant, and stabbed 21-year-old Emmanuel to his bottom with it because he feared for his own life at the time.
But the jury at Warwick Crown Court has heard that the dagger-like knife punctured the main vein taking blood back to his heart, and Emmanuel, known as Manny, bled to death at the scene.
Ruddock (19) of Melbourne Road, Coventry; Matthew Brankin (19) of Thimbler Road, Canley; Kyle Kinchen (18) of John Rous Avenue, Coventry, and Bradley Richardson (23) of Prior Deram Walk, Canley, have all pleaded not guilty to Emmanuel’s murder.
The jury has heard of a running feud between two groups of youths – ‘one from the Canley area above Torrington Avenue, and the other from the Tile Hill area below Torrington Avenue.’
It is said that on June 12, the four of them trawled the area on a stolen Triumph motorbike and in a blue Berlingo van, looking for members of the other group who included Emmanuel.
Prosecutor James Curtis QC said that during the course of that they got a can of petrol and torched a car outside an address where Emmanuel and some of his group were at the time.
Later, with Kinchen riding the Triumph and Ruddock on the back, and Brankin and Richardson in the Berlingo, they pursued the other group who fled into gardens of houses in Franklin Grove.
Ruddock and Richardson took up the pursuit on foot, and smashed open the garden gate before, it was alleged, Ruddock stabbed 21-year old Emmanuel as he was climbing over a fence.
There was a single blow to the area of his bottom which severed a vital artery in the perineum, and he bled to death on the other side of the fence.
Before closing the prosecution case, Mr Curtis showed the jury video clips and pictures taken with a phone which showed Mr Lukenga brandishing a revolver in different locations, including in a car outside a shop which has featured in the trial.
Mr Curtis pointed out that the realistic-looking gun has been identified by a firearms expert as a Dan Wesson CO2-powered ‘action sport games’ gun, and there was a further picture of Manny with what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol.
Giving evidence, in response to questions from his barrister Christopher Millington QC, Ruddock said he was aware of trouble between friends of his in Canley and another group from Tile Hill, although he said he was not involved in that.
He said that in May there had been an incident when four of the Tile Hill group brandished weapons as they approached some of Ruddock’s friends, with Emmanuel holding up a black pistol.
Asked about the events on June 12, Ruddock said he heard ‘Tile Hill was driving around Canley’ in a red Vauxhall Astra, so he returned to Canley and met up with the other three before they set off to Tile Hill in the Berlingo and on the Triumph.
Mr Millington asked what the purpose was, and he said: “To set the red Vauxhall on fire to stop them going round in it.”
They found it in Melrose Way, and Ruddock said: “The jerry can was passed to me from the driver’s side of the Berlingo, and I walked down the close and set fire to it.”
Of why he was the one to do so, he said: “Convenience, because I was on the back of the motorbike, so it was easier for me to get off and on.
“We went back to Canley but we returned to Tile Hill to see the commotion. There were a few people outside and some woman screaming her head off.”
They then travelled to Frisby Road where they saw members of the rival group, and Ruddock followed two of them into a convenience store before leaving and getting back onto the bike.
He denied having a knife on him at that time, and said he did not see that Richardson, who had got out of the Berlingo, was holding an axe behind his back outside the shop.
After leaving, they then saw Emmanuel in a group of lads, and the van followed them along a pathway towards Franklin Grove, while he said he and Kinchen headed along a parallel pathway on the Triumph, and he claimed that at one stage as they rode past him, Emmanuel swung out at him with something.
“Did you see whether or not Manny was carrying any weapon?” asked Mr Millington. Ruddock replied: “At that time, yes. It looked like a knife. I made a gesture with my middle finger.”
He said the bike stopped, and he got off, insisting he had not had any weapon on him until that point.
Asked how he then came to have a knife, he said: “I was passed it by the passenger in the Berlingo, Mr Richardson. I took it for my own safety.”
He said he intended to use it to intimidate the other group, and was asked: “Did you intend to use that knife to injure anyone.” He replied: “Definitely not.”
Asked what he had in mind, he claimed: “To speak to them and try to get a resolution to all the rubbish that was going on.”
Ruddock said he was with Richardson, who had an axe, and they could see Emmanuel and others go over a fence into the back garden of a house, so he booted the gate open to follow them.
“I seen Emmanuel and six or seven people behind him. Three or four had weapons, knives and a hammer. The boys behind Emmanuel all ran off and left him. They jumped over the fence.
“There was just Emmanuel. He put his hand down his trousers, his left hand. I saw something black.
“It could have been a gun, it could have been a knife. I ran at him and shoulder-charged him, and he went down to his hands and knees. I was standing over him.
“He went to get back up. I thought he was going to do something with a weapon. I stabbed him in the lower region, in the bum.”
Ruddock said that as far as he was aware, that was where he had stabbed Emmanuel – and asked whether he had intended to cause serious injury of kill him, he replied: “Definitely not.”
Asked whether he had stabbed him deliberately, he said: “Yes, I was scared for myself. I could have ran away, but I thought he would chase me and the tables would be turned.”
He said he then ran off back to the motorbike, did not see Emmanuel climb over the fence, and did not realise he had been fatally injured until he saw a Facebook message that evening.
Asked how he felt when he heard, he said: “Distraught.”
Andrew Hill QC, for Richardson, said that at the time he stabbed Manny, there were only the two of them in the garden, and none of the other defendants were there, which Ruddock accepted.
Mr Hill put to him: “None of them had suggested to you that you stab anyone.” Ruddock confirmed: “Definitely not.”
Mr Hill then suggested he had lied about not having the knife from the outset, and had lied about it being passed to him by Richardson, to which Ruddock responded: “I wouldn’t lie to put my friend in a predicament.”
Also on trial is Rilee Madden (19) of Gerard Avenue, Canley, who denies handling the stolen motorbike.